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I'm ready to kick on and start for Ireland: Carbery


By Cian Tracey

The curious case of Joey Carbery and his quest to cement his place as a starter for both club and country continues, and the irony is certainly not lost in the accompanying picture displaying the 22-year-old with three jerseys.

All seven of his Leinster appearances this season have come at full-back, while he has played at out-half four times for Ireland.

To add to that, Joe Schmidt recently revealed that Carbery had been running at inside centre in training and that he very nearly ended up there against Italy when Robbie Henshaw was forced off injured.

It's all part of the positional merry-go-round that Carbery finds himself on as he continues to play back-up to Johnny Sexton.

You won't find the versatile playmaker complaining however, and while other people are having their say on where he should play, Carbery is blocking out the external noise.

Schmidt so often speaks of the bubble that exists at Carton House and inside that, Carbery knows exactly where he stands with the Ireland head coach.

There is frustration at times but the bigger picture is at play as Carbery is being lined up as the heir to Sexton's throne.

Yet deep down, one wonders if Carbery is actually happy being shifted from out-half to centre to full-back.

While the experience will stand to him, it doesn't do much for his chances of making one of the three jerseys his own.

"I suppose if it came to the stage where I wasn't feeling confident in myself, I would have to have that conversation," he maintains.

"At the moment, I'm feeling pretty good and I'm happy with where I am.

"It's a great environment to be in, and the team is winning as well, so it's a pretty good place to be. I'm feeling good in myself, so there's no reason to have that conversation.

"The coaches always value our opinion as well. There's been loads of conversations about certain stuff, so it is a two-way street. If I felt the need to say something I'm sure they would be more than willing to listen."

Comparisons with Beauden Barrett are regularly made, particularly in how the All Black seamlessly switched from full-back to out-half, but more recently, the suggestion has been that Carbery could be more like Matt Giteau.

Either way, that is high esteem in which to be held.

"I've done a bit of reps in training at 12," Carbery says.

"I suppose if it's going to get me game time, I'd be happy playing. I can kind of play as a 12. Look at Matt Giteau playing at 12, he was almost like a second 10 so it'd be exciting if Joe was to throw me in at 12. I'd probably relish it, I'd enjoy it.

"I'd say having a 12 like that playing outside the 10 would probably help him a lot, being able to make calls and stuff and being able to take pressure off.

"Training is intense and as close to a game as it possibly could be. I'm getting a good bit out of being in camp and doing that. But then again, nothing is the same as a game.

"I suppose I've got to trust the coaches and they've got to know best. Joe is happy so I'm doing something right anyway."

Carbery's talent is unquestionable but the fact remains, the last time he played a full game was against Glasgow in October.

There are some huge games coming up with Ireland and Leinster, and it has to be a concern how little he has played.

"It is always a fear isn't it?" Schmidt admitted this week.

"We want guys who are match-fit, ready to go and ready to slot in as seamlessly as possible."

Carbery, however, just wants to play. "To be honest, I would love a game (this weekend)," he insists.

"I would love to get a full 80 minutes under my belt and keep ticking over. You've got to trust the coaches and if they have confidence in you, it gives you confidence as well.

"From all the reps in training and knowing my detail from early on in the week, I kind of build up towards it, so I feel like if I was thrown in I'd be confident enough to perform.

"It's trying to think positively all the time and not putting (negative) thoughts in your head is the key.

"I suppose I do need the game-time, but then if Joe doesn't want to release me then he won't release me."

It remains to be seen whether or not Carbery will play for Leinster against the Scarlets on Saturday but it was perhaps telling that Schmidt didn't release him for the return game in Dublin a fortnight ago.

The wrist injury he picked up in November denied him valuable minutes on the pitch in recent months and while he continues to be shifted across the back-line, Carbery is happy to do so, despite what others may think.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion and they obviously think that I should be doing other stuff, but at the moment I'm pretty happy," he adds.

"I look up to the coaches a lot and value their opinion, and they seem quite happy with me so I'm only really listening to what they have to say.

"It wouldn't p*** me off. I've just got to keep looking at the right things."

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